Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Rest of World

Africa

Members of chambers have excellent experience of dealing with commercial disputes in Africa, in a wide variety of business sectors, whilst are called to the Ugandan and South African Bars, to name but two.

In the energy, construction and natural resources sector, for example, our recent experience includes the twelve-week Commercial Court trial of Saipem v Wirth Maschinen, concerning a drill ship disaster during plug and abandonment operations off the West African coast; and Commercial Court and related arbitral proceedings arising out of an oil drilling dispute off Sierra Leone.

The set has also successfully represented clients in litigation in a nickel mining dispute in Burundi, Africa, arising from an alleged breach of contract regarding the exploitation of African mining concessions. Having successfully disposed of the claim in 2011, we were instructed in a follow-on claim raised in the British Virgin Islands, an example of repeat instruction.

The set also has experience of UNCITRAL arbitration against an African government concerning a very substantial claim for breach of contract; oil and gas shipment and storage disputes in Keyna; multi-million pound tax litigation in Uganda; and Nigerian-related litigation in the banking, finance, telecoms, aviation, and corporate fields.

The set acts for the Central Bank of Nigeria in a jurisdiction dispute as to whether limitation periods apply to claims for dishonest assistance in breach of trust, a case heard in the Supreme Court in 2013, with other appellate aspects, concerned with the relationship between English trust law and Nigerian public law, going to the Court of Appeal in early 2013.

This shows the quality of our legal acumen in such disputes, whilst our trial strategy and management skills were seen in the case of Access Bank Plc v Akingbola, one of the highest value Commercial Court trials of 2012, where the trial was heard in London and in Nigeria for more than six weeks with judgment was entered for over £900 million.

Latin America

Members of chambers have considerable experience of Latin American disputes in both litigation and arbitration, arising both in the London courts and tribunals, and elsewhere. The Sulamerica litigation, for example, saw an appellate judgment concerning the governing law of a London arbitration clause, contained in a contract governed by Brazilian law and containing an exclusive Brazilian arbitration clause.

The appeal tested the enforceability of an agreement for London arbitration contained in a contract governed by foreign law and containing a foreign jurisdiction clause. It provided welcome guidance on determining the proper law of the arbitration agreement, where none is expressly stated.

The set also has extensive aviation experience in Brazil, whether in respect of multi-million pound aviation insurance claims, or in aircraft finance claims involving a multi-million dollar claim for indemnities for losses arising under the leases of aircraft.

Members also have good experience of insurance and international arbitration claims arising from disputes in Venezuela- both for poetical risk and war risk claims, and on the enforceability in England of a US$18 billion judgment entered against Chevron in the courts of Ecuador.

We have also acted on investment bank litigation over compensation owing in respect of credit linked notes and swap transactions following the bond default of Ecuador, and in an investment notes dispute between an US investment bank and the Argentinian government, with significant quantum.

Middle East

Members of the set are no strangers to disputes in the Middle East, whether in the oil, gas, and banking and finance sectors, or heard in regionally important arbitral centres in cases involving civil fraud and breach of contract, or in the Commercial Court.

The set’s representation in the mammoth Texas Keystone litigation- listed by The Lawyer as one of 2012’s major cases- dominated 2013, with the set’s clients succeeding on all points, and the claim against them, for $1.65 million being dismissed in its entirety in September, with full judgment in December 2013 and a subsequent significant indemnity costs ruling shortly thereafter.

The claim concerned disputes as to ownership of oil and gas concessions in Iraqi Kurdistan, and was the biggest case tried in the Commercial Court in 2013.

Members of the set are also registered to practise in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), where they have acted for global banks in a variety of finance disputes, involving, for example, complex allegations of deceit and conspiracy, financial products mis-selling litigation worth US$225million, as well as a professional negligence claim against a Dubai-based UK law firm.

Although Dubai is a civil law jurisdiction and its official language is Arabic, the laws of the DIFC are in English and based largely on UK statutes and the English common law. The DIFC courts conduct their business in English and their rules and procedure are based on the English Civil Procedure Rules.

Outside of Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, the set has also been instructed in a multi-million pound multi-jurisdictional dispute involving offshore international arbitration proceedings, as well as related Jersey, English, Lebanese and other foreign court proceedings, arising in connection with the ownership and operation of Yemen’s largest oil and gas concession.

The set is also acts in disputes involving ultra-high net worth individuals, having acted in one of the Middle East’s longest-running and most convoluted business disputes in a confrontation between the Al Gosaibi family of Saudi Arabia and their son-in-law, Maan al Sanea.

The case concerns the 2009 collapse of Al-Sanea’s Awal Bank and the Algosaibis’ International Banking Corporation, both based in Bahrain, costing an estimated $22 billion, resulting in litigation in New York, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, London, the Cayman Islands and Geneva.

The set also acted for investment banks in a claim, for US$27m, related to investment losses sustained in market turmoil of late 2008, in which it achieved a complete defence to claims over the advice given to an ultra-high net worth client as to risks involved in leveraging of investments.